Week 10 2021

Attendance in education and early years settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

Published

A summary of attendance in education settings from Monday 23 March 2020 to Thursday 4 March 2021 (excluding out of term dates as data not collected) and early years settings from Thursday 16 April 2020 to 4 March 2021. The data covers England only. 

This publication provides a high-level summary of estimates from the Department for Education's education settings survey and local authority early years survey. Further data at national and local authority level is available in the underlying data.

These statistics have been produced quickly in response to developing world events. In May 2020, the Office for Statistics Regulation, on behalf of the UK Statistics Authority, reviewed them against several key aspects of the Code of Practice for Statistics and regarded them as consistent with the Code’s pillars of Trustworthiness, Quality and Value.

Expansion of publication content in future releases

We are working to expand the scope of published data in future releases.

Data sharing

Data collected from the Education Settings Survey is shared as management information across national and local government for operational purposes. As part of the data share we explicitly highlight that the information is for internal purposes only and should not be shared more widely. The limitations of the data, which include variables with missing values, responses not being validated or issues being thoroughly investigated are highlighted to ensure recipients are aware that decisions should not be made in isolation and the risks of making conclusions based on the data alone. We engage with local users to try to prevent the data being shared inappropriately. Where we identify misuse of the data we work with those in receipt of the data to understand how it happened and to reduce the likelihood it will happen again.

Information shared across government includes variables that we have made a conscious decision not to share more widely at the present moment for a number of reasons including the quality of the data which could misinform or confuse users, however, they may provide useful insight for operational purposes, particularly at a local level.

The department is continuously reviewing what and how information collected from the survey is disseminated and we will endeavour to publish data at the earliest opportunity.


Headline facts and figures - 2021

From 5 January 2021, schools were asked to provide on-site education for vulnerable children and children of critical workers only. This remained in place until 5 March 2021. Data from 8 March, reflecting wider opening of schools, will be published on 16 March.

School figures reported as of Thursday 4 March are compared with Thursday 25 February in this publication.

State-funded schools

Open rates

  • On 4 March, over 99% of state-funded schools were open to children of critical workers and vulnerable children. This is higher than March to May 2020, when schools were previously asked to open only to children of critical workers and vulnerable children. Around 80% of schools were open in May 2020.

Pupil on-site attendance

  • Pupil attendance in state-funded schools was 19% on 4 March, up from 18% on 25 February. Attendance has increased steadily throughout the spring term from 14% on 13 January. Pupils not attending on-site should receive remote education.
  • Attendance was 28% in state-funded primary schools, 6% in state-funded secondary schools and 47% in state-funded special schools on 4 March. Attendance increased in state-funded primary and special schools compared to 25 February, when attendance was 27% in state-funded primary schools and 44% in state-funded special schools. Attendance for state-funded secondary schools is similar to that on 25 February.
  • Attendance of both children of critical workers and vulnerable children has increased since early January:
    • Approximately 1,013,000 children of critical workers were in attendance on 4 March, up from 1,000,000 on 25 February. Attendance of children of critical workers has increased throughout the spring term from 820,000 on 13 January.
    • Approximately 47% of all pupils with an EHCP on roll in state-funded schools were in attendance on 4 March, up from 45% on 25 February. Attendance of pupils with an EHCP has increased throughout the spring term from 34% on 13 January.
    • Approximately 51% of all pupils with a social worker on roll in state-funded schools were in attendance on 4 March, up from 50% on 25 February. Attendance of pupils with a social worker has increased throughout the spring term from 40% on 13 January [1].
    • We estimate that 313,000 children identified as otherwise vulnerable were in attendance on 4 March, compared to 296,000 on 25 February and 169,000 on 13 January. We estimate that 21% of pupils in attendance on 4 March were otherwise vulnerable.

Workforce on-site

  • We estimate 47% of teachers and school leaders were working on-site in open state-funded schools on 4 March, up from 41% on 25 February. This figure was 59% in primary schools, 31% in secondary schools and 73% in special schools on 4 March.
  • We estimate 61% of teaching assistants and other staff were working on-site in state-funded open schools on 4 March, up from 58% on 25 February. This figure was 66% in primary schools, 46% in secondary schools and 70% in special schools on 25 February.

Early years settings

  • The early years local authority survey continues on a weekly basis. We estimate 708,000 children are currently attending early years childcare settings on Thursday 4 March – about 48% of the number of children who usually attend childcare in term time [2]. Due to many children attending EY settings on a part-time basis, we would not expect all children to be in attendance on the day of the data collection. On a typical day in the Spring term we expect attendance to be 1,052,000, due to different and part-time patterns of childcare during the week [3]. We estimate that the 708,000 children currently attending early years settings is approximately 67% of the usual daily level.

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[1]  Pupils with a social worker are considered ‘children in need’. Our analysis after adjusting for non-response suggests that schools may be under-reporting the number of children with a social worker when compared to the most recently published children in need statistics. Therefore these estimates only account for pupils with a social worker that are identified by schools. Schools report on the form how many children with a social worker (SW) they have on roll. Our analysis suggests that the total number of children with a SW differs by at least 30% compared to published figures for children with a social worker. This means our attendance figures for pupils with a social worker are likely to overestimate attendance.

[2] The number of children in term time was estimated using outputs from the Childcare and early years survey of parents: 2019 and ONS National Population Projections: 2018 based. 

[3] LAs are asked to send attendance in EY settings on a typical day of the week. We have calculated normal expected daily attendance based on estimates of the average number of days a child spends in formal childcare on any given day, using the Childcare and early years survey of parents: 2019. For further details please see the methodology section. 

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